This is crazy. I just read a report in the journal The Lancet about a trial that’s taking place with embryonic stem cells and human subjects with macular degeneration. The preliminary report actually shows that the patients have experienced some restoration of their vision. Two patients are being utilized in this study – one with Stargardt’s macular dystrophy and one with dry age-related macular degeneration. From the study:
Although there is little agreement between investigators on visual endpoints in patients with low vision, it is encouraging that during the observation period neither patient lost vision. Best corrected visual acuity improved from hand motions to 20/800 (and improved from 0 to 5 letters on the Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study [ETDRS] visual acuity chart) in the study eye of the patient with Stargardt’s macular dystrophy, and vision also seemed to improve in the patient with dry age-related macular degeneration (from 21 ETDRS letters to 28).
Hey, did you hear? Lemme just make sure that everybody heard: STEM CELLS ARE BEING USED TO HELP RESTORE VISION AND ARE SHOWING SIGNS OF SUCCESS. AWE-SOME!
OK – first, what is macular degeneration? We’re basically talking about vision loss here that results from some sort of degeneration of the maculaThese two macular degeneration subjects have interesting vision deficiencies. Presentation on Stargardt’s Dystrophy, from Wikipedia:
Those with Stargardt disease are sensitive to glare; overcast days offer some relief. Vision is most noticeably impaired when the macula (center of retina and focus of vision) is damaged, leaving peripheral vision more intact. Symptoms usually appear before age 20. Symptoms include wavy vision, blind spots, blurriness, impaired color vision, and difficulty adapting to dim lighting. Some patients are able to drive. Many patients use magnifiers to help them see, and wear sunglasses to slow the development.
The other one, in this case, is a general dry age-related macular degeneration. There are two kinds of this vision-killing degeneration, a wet kind and a dry kind:
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a medical condition which usually affects older adults and results in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field (the macula) because of damage to the retina. It occurs in “dry” and “wet” forms. It is a major cause of blindness and visual impairment in older adults (>50 years). Macular degeneration can make it difficult or impossible to read or recognize faces, although enough peripheral vision remains to allow other activities of daily life.
Starting from the inside of the eye and going towards the back, the three main layers at the back of the eye are the retina, which contains the nerves; the choroid, which contains the blood supply; and the sclera, which is the white of the eye.
The macula is the central area of the retina, which provides the most detailed central vision.
In the dry (nonexudative) form, cellular debris called drusen accumulate between the retina and the choroid, and the retina can become detached. In the wet (exudative) form, which is more severe, blood vessels grow up from the choroid behind the retina, and the retina can also become detached. It can be treated with laser coagulation, and with medication that stops and sometimes reverses the growth of blood vessels.
Although some macular dystrophies affecting younger individuals are sometimes referred to as macular degeneration, the term generally refers to age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD).
Age-related macular degeneration begins with characteristic yellow deposits (drusen) in the macula, between the retinal pigment epithelium and the underlying choroid. Most people with these early changes (referred to as age-related maculopathy) have good vision. People with drusen can go on to develop advanced AMD. The risk is considerably higher when the drusen are large and numerous and associated with disturbance in the pigmented cell layer under the macula. Recent research suggests that large and soft drusen are related to elevated cholesterol deposits and may respond to cholesterol-lowering agents.
Ok, now I’mma let you finish, Taylor Swift, but STEM CELLS ARE BEING USED TO HELP RESTORE VISION AND ARE SHOWING SIGNS OF SUCCESS.
Check out the original article at The Lancet. Very, very cool news.